Written & Performed by Gemma Harvey
Directed by Lou-Lou Mason
12 noon, 31 July 1- 26 August (except 12 Aug)
Underbelly Buttercup – Bristo Sq – Venue 302
An hilarious, romping, multimedia exposé of modern dating scrutinises the deeper, brutal side of love and life, challenging our preconceptions of women and dating, sex and autonomy
What was the inspiration for the work:
Gemma: ‘I am a hopeless romantic who is still completely obsessed with finding love. I was inspired to write Lobster following my experiences of online dating. I was shocked by the damaging behaviour I encountered and by the pressures coming from all sides of society. When I realised that my female friends were going through similar ordeals, I decided to write a play based entirely on these real-life experiences. Fast-paced living and online culture have enabled a disregard for people’s feelings and safety in the dating game, when they’re at their most vulnerable. I want Lobster to challenge that behaviour, and inspire people to rediscover human connection and integrity in relationships.
How far does the content of the work influence your dramaturgical process? (or – what is the relationship between form and content?)
Lou-Lou: The exciting thing about the show being a single hander, is that it can exclusively focus on Polly’s experience of all she encounters, both in terms of dating technology and the other characters she meets. Multi-roling provides a very layered abstract: while each character is clearly defined, what the audience sees is Polly’s interpretation of the other character’s engagement with her, which really helps to demonstrate that a person’s individual truth is deeper and more impactful than the objective truth. This dynamic is perfect for exploring such deeply personal, intimate narratives.
During R&D, the stories and experiences we collected from our research group created a very organic development experience. While verbatim theatre usually creates episodic results, we found that there were many many shared experiences across the research group. Also, when recreating each anecdote in theatrical form they naturally slotted together in a dynamic crescendo. Ultimately, the components of Polly’s story have been taken from different peoples lives, but as so many similar examples were found, it’s clear that her entire journey could have happened to any one of us.
How does this show relate to your usual process or content?
Lou-Lou: for me it’s a return to devising and being part of the end to end process from concept to realisation. I work with many formats and processes, and this is by far the most exciting way to work. It’s time consuming and incredibly deep, so can be exhausting and utterly rinsing. But that’s what is absolutely necessary to create brilliant theatre!
Gemma: As an actor, this is my first experience with writing a play. Everyone knows the industry is incredibly challenging for women and there are significantly fewer female roles available. So, inspired by other writer performers like Phoebe Waller Bridge, Michaela Coel and Milly Thomas, I turned my hand to my keyboard. Writers are always told to write about what they know – drawing on my personal online dating experience, Lobster was born! Working with true events and life stories and creating a play from them is so different from the standard actors experience of being handed a play and going into rehearsals. The way we have worked is completely opposite to that: collating the stories, then through the devising process, to the evolution of the play to what you can now see.
What makes you want to make theatre rather than another art?
Lou-Lou: There is nothing more exciting than theatre. It provides a blank canvas like no other and as a counterpoint to the sharp increase in technological progress and platforms, theatre is more relevant than ever. Theatre is all about the audience – it enables an engagement with audience in a very special, intimate way and the most magical part of theatre making for me is in the blending styles and content to leverage the audience’s imaginations to take them on the performance journey. Audiences are more switched-on than ever and we are really excited to bring Edinburgh a show that is so very current and touches so many lives.
Is theatre – and the Fringe – a good place to provoke conversations?
It absolutely is. With such a broad reach of participants, we can’t think of a better place to raise the issues in Lobster and start the conversation and the campaign to create real social change in our romantic interactions.
A critical point about lobster is that every scenario Polly encounters, every cringe worthy conversation, every date and every message she receives has happened to us or someone we know. We’re not out to criticise apps, but the damaging behaviour they can facilitate. We all love to hear a good tinder horror story, but these are real people behind the profiles. The conversation we want to spark is a serious one about sexual health, consent, mental well-being, and the desire for connection, all of which are key issues in modern dating whatever your age, sexual orientation or gender. In a world where fast paced online consumerist culture has spread to dating and the search for sex and/or love, we want Lobster to inspire people to call out negative behaviour and promote human connection and romantic integrity regardless of the platform you’re using to meet people.
One of the things we hope to create out of the show is a dating manifesto co-created with our audiences of ten principles of good modern dating. What does positive behaviour look like? Let’s push for a standard that everyone deserves and support people to follow it.
Loquitur Theatre was founded in 2015 by Gemma Harvey and Lou-Lou Mason.
Since inception, we have continuously demonstrated our niche for edgy and compelling work, exploring issues and challenges faced by women in ordinary and extraordinary situations.